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Breakfast is our most important meal of the day right? Or so we are told. But lost in that translation is what exactly you should have on the plate.  A traditional English breakfast is a "fry-up", the American breakfast is pretty much similar, though 31% of Americans who eat breakfast admitted they ate cold cereal. Your breakfast should comprise of a protein and fat meal. Wait no carbs? But doesn't everyone have a bowl of cereal and some toast for breakfast? The thinking behind this is that the body can handle more carbs in the morning as we have the whole day to move and burn it off and in the evening we are sitting at home so the carbs will be stored as fat. That's not strictly true. Carbs releases insulin, which manages your blood sugar and serotonin which dictates your mood. Your mood goes up after a high carb meal but then you start feeling tired and you reach for that cup of coffee again!  This is called hypoglycaemia. This is why coffee shops sell sandwiches and cakes to go with coffee!!! How many of you have felt tired, had low energy, feeling high then had a blood sugar crash after eating that piece of cake then went and bought another coffee? From a health point of view consuming high carbs isn't optimal and neither it is from a fat loss point of view. The body's ability to deal with an excess of quick-energy, simple sugars is pretty poor, which is the true reason why our 20th century diet gets us into trouble. Carbohydrate food, especially simple carbohydrates such as sugar, honey, milk and fruit, which contain glucose, and refined carbohydrates like flour, white rice, and potato starch, which, because they are readily absorbed through the gut, speedily convert to glucose, require a lot of insulin. From the carbohydrates, your body will absorb simple sugars, all of which either are, or quickly and easily become, glucose. From fats, it absorbs glycerol and fatty acids, and from proteins it absorbs amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Insulin governs the processing of blood sugar, when blood sugar rises insulin will dictate how much glucose will go towards storing glycogen in the muscles and liver and how much of it will go towards storing this energy as fats. If all you are doing is constantly feeding it too much carbs, your body will become poor at clearing the excess glucose. When the body becomes inefficient at clearing the excess sugar it will pump out even more insulin.  From there multiple problems can and will arise from obesity to diabetes. Insulin receptors can become less efficient at clearing excess glucose and could eventually cause it to wear out and even shut down. It's one reason why overweight individuals are tired much of the time. the insulin receptors on the surfaces of the body's cells are blocked from carrying out their function, which in turn prevents insulin from stimulating the transfer of glucose to the cells for energy use. Because insulin is not effective in converting glucose into energy, it transfers more and more into stored fat. You'd like to slim down, but your body is in fact, becoming a fat-producing machine. In the human body, every action leads to an equal and opposite reaction. Here are the other effects of chronically high insulin levels
  • Insulin increases salt and water retention recipe for both hypertension and continued overweight.
  • Insulin aggravates hypertension by increasing the responsiveness of arteries to the effects of adrenaline.
  • Insulin affects the body's supply of neurotransmitters and can cause sleep disorders.
  • Insulin provokes the liver into producing more LDL cholesterol. It may be one of the most significant components in the cholesterol/heart disease connection.
  • High insulin levels will suppress growth hormone levels aka The Fountain of Youth.
Since obesity and high insulin travel in company, this is probably the reason why overweight is such a major risk factor for a heart attack. So are carbs the enemy? No they're not but eating carbs alone will have an impact on your body composition and possibly health as discussed above. Are fats the enemy? No they're not but eating too much fats, especially of the wrong types will have an impact on your body composition and health. Excess fats will make you fat when fats are accompanied with surges of glucose and insulin, carbohydrate metabolism is increased without a parallel need for energy transfer. Take home point, anything taken in excess is bad for you.  As with everything in life, moderation is key. Now, going back to the original question, what should I eat for breakfast? Your breakfast plate should have a combination of protein and healthy fats. Consuming protein makes your cells less sensitive to storing fat and for the ones who work out it builds muscle and helps keep the muscle on your body when dieting down. Approximately 20-30% of total calories go into digesting protein. Fat is the primary fuel used at rest when you are not eating.  Healthy fats will give you energy for your training and keep your blood sugar stable. When you eat a high protein breakfast you will enjoy improved mental focus, higher energy, and fewer cravings than ever before. This is because the high protein content releases blood sugar gradually throughout the day due to longer absorption times compared with carbs and other simple sugars which take around 15-30 mins for energy to be absorbed. A 2011 article published in the journal Obesity looked at this phenomenon by studying two groups of obese men: one that ate a high-protein diet, and the other that consumed normal-protein diets. The subjects of the study reported having fewer hunger pangs, less fixation on food, and less late-night snacking than the lower protein group. Several studies have also focused on employee productivity and the attention patterns of children in relation to their morning eating habits. They concluded that the energy and mental focus benefits of a high-protein breakfast aren't only felt in the morning, but extend through the afternoon as well. Your day is too important to be fueled with kids' stuff, cheap carbs, or worse yet, nothing at all. Managing blood glucose and insulin levels is an important way to improve health, body composition and performance. Good sources of protein are: Fish (Tuna, Haddock, Cod, Salmon) all line caught Eggs Chicken Turkey Milk Lean red meat Good sources of fats are: Coconut Oil (Extra virgin) Olive oil (extra virgin) Flaxseeds Nuts (Almonds, Brazil) Fish (Sardines, Mackerels) Avocados